Vegan News – MBMS Fundraiser Features Vegan Cuisine


Think of the menu at a typical gala dinner and certain culinary clichés pop up – the plate of shrimp as an appetizer, followed by the entrée that earned speaking tours the nickname “the rubber chicken circuit.” There are vegetables on the plate because the lump of protein looks lonely all by itself.

That won’t be the case at Verte, the fundraiser for the Grades of Green project at Manhattan Beach Middle School. That program is all about environmental education, part of which is encouraging students to have more plant-based meals because meat has a huge environmental impact. As such the meals served to 430 people at the MBS studios on May 29th will be entirely vegan – not an animal product in sight.

This might seem to be a challenge for the chef, Chris Garasic of Shade Hotel, but it isn’t – he’s used to this type of dining. “During the last year or two my diet has changed… I don’t really eat a lot of animal protein myself, so this is actually more like the meals I eat when I’m cooking for myself. The logistics aren’t a problem, as our restaurant already offers seasonal and sustainable food, and we have the relationships with our vendors.”

Garasic knows that most of the people who attend this type of event don’t usually dine on entirely plant-based food, and some may have concerns that everything will be weird.

“The meal has a Latin theme, and it had to be approachable. I chose chicken fajitas using Beyond Meat, which is made from pea protein and has a higher protein content than chicken. We’ll also have jasmine rice, black beans, crispy yuca, and handmade tortillas. The dessert will have no dairy, no eggs or cream.”

One of the organizers of the event, Chrissy Roth, said that despite the reputation of children as big burger and hot dog eaters, Grades of Green’s message goes over very well.

“I think a lot of kids are inherently predisposed to be vegetarian. They love animals and don’t want to eat them, especially once they discover the ecological consequences. Their parents give them a diet with a lot of meat because they think they have to, or think vegetarian meals aren’t safe. Sure, it is possible to be a vegetarian and be unhealthy – there is no meat in Oreos, Fritos, or white bread, and if you try to live on those you won’t do well.”

Roth, who writes about vegetarianism at her blog, credits a vegan diet with improving her health and got involved with this event because she believes exposing both students and adults to plant foods will have benefits for all concerned.

The Grades of Green event will feature entertainment by Shawn Mullins, Soul on Tap, and Joe’s Band, with MC John Ireland. Tickets start at $350.00 – for more information and to purchase tickets